Kidney stones are one of the most painful ailments known to mankind, and we sincerely hope that you would never have to deal with such a disease, however, having said that, it is still essential to understand the signs that will help you detect this ailment in its earliest stages. Kidney stones have earned a deadly reputation, and rightly so, because these tiny, hard deposits can cause immense pain.
Basically, these small and hard deposits tend to develop inside the kidneys when there are high quantities of various salts and minerals present within your urine. Kidney stones tend to vary in appearance, they can be jagged, as small as a grain of sand, smooth and in rare cases, as big as a golf ball. Naturally, the body will attempt to excrete them out through the urethra along with your urine, however, when they are making their way out of your body, they can immensely excruciating pain.
We’ve picked out all the information you need to understand the causes of kidney stones, all possible signs to help you detect this painful disease, and essential preventive measures to shield your kidneys from this ailment.
Types of Kidney Stones
There are four kinds of kidney stones, and their emergence is a direct indication that your body is unable to perform urination normally. Basically, kidney stones are tiny, hard deposits of mineral and acid salts that develop on the inner surface of our kidneys. They tend to occur when the urines gets extremely concentrate, allowing a build-up of excessive salts and minerals.
Let’s take a look at the four types of kidney stones in greater detail:
1. Uric acid stones
Uric acid stones tend to occur when the urine contains excessive amounts of acid inside it. Consuming high amounts of fish, shellfish and meat, particularly organ meat can increase the amounts of uric acid within your pee. So, it is advisable to consume mindful portions of these foods.
2. Calcium stones
Calcium stones are the most commonly occurring type of kidney stones, and they include two basic varieties, calcium oxalate and calcium phosphate. These crystals tend to form over time when the liver ends up producing an excessive build-up of oxalate and calcium, obtain from spinach, wheat bran, nut-based products, rhubarb, and peanuts. In certain instances, a phosphorus build-up can also occur, which is obtained from compounds like disodium phosphate and foods, such as meat, milk and beans. When these compounds tend to build-up inside the kidneys, they begin forming crystals that grow larger in size with time.
However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that you should eliminate calcium from your diet due to the fear of calcium build-up, but in fact, when consumed moderately, it can actually aid in preventing the formation of calcium stones. You see, calcium merges with phosphate and oxalate within the stomach and the small intestine, which aids in preventing them from being absorbed and leaded towards the kidneys.
Researchers believe that not consuming sufficient amounts of calcium can actually increase your risk factors for developing kidney stones by increasing the build-up of such compounds in your urine. At the same time, it is important to understand that the consumption of calcium supplements has been directly associated with a greater risk of developing kidney stones. Therefore, it is essential to consume calcium by adding natural foods to your diet.
3. Struvite stones
Struvite stones usually develop after suffering from a urinary tract infection. Researchers highlight that the urine contains a particular kind of bacteria, which causes the production of ammonia as a breakdown compound that further increases the concentration of ammonia and pH within the urine, eventually leading to the development of struvite stones.
Researchers stress upon the need of early detection and diagnosis for they develop very suddenly and experience a rapid growth that can often be difficult to contain.
4. Cystine stones
These type of kidney stones are the rarest kind and they are associated with an inherited lifelong disorder, known as cystinuria. It occurs when the amino acid cystine begins leaking from the kidneys and entering the urine, leading to the formation of cystine stones.
Risk Factors of Kidney Stones
There are certain risk factors that can put you at a greater risk for developing kidney stones.
Here, take a look:
1. Urinary Tract Infections
Recurrently occurring urinary tract infections develop because of a high concentration of ammonia and pH within the urine, and they usually tend to trigger the formation of kidney stones.
2. Chronic Bowel Inflammation
Chronic bowel inflammation is usually accompanied with conditions, such as ulcerative colitis, and they often trigger the formation of kidney stones. Moreover, chronic bowel inflammation also promotes the development of diarrhea, which causes the body to become excessively dehydrated. Consequently, the dehydration prevents you from urinating sufficiently, which also causes the urine to become heavily concentration and this leads to the formation of stones.
Furthermore, chronic bowel inflammation makes it excessively difficult for the GI system to absorb all the various compounds that are essential to merge with different salts and minerals, such as fatty acids, citrate and citric acid, in order to prevent the formation of stones.
Obesity is another extremely dangerous risk factor that happens to be one of the largest contributors to the formation of kidney stones. Even though researchers aren’t entirely clear about the exact cause and effect relationship, but research reveals that obesity is directly linked with insulin resistance, which is basically the body inability to generate a normal response to the insulin hormone that regulates our blood sugar levels.
Obesity causes an excessive increase in the levels of insulin within the bloodstream, along with elevating the levels of acidic blood pH. Research explains that this leads to an increase in the amounts of calcium that is released inside your urine. Beware that consuming excessive amounts of animal-based protein and salt can contribute to the development of obesity, along with increasing the risk factors of stone formation.
Diabetes also encourages the formation of kidney stones, and researchers believe that this occurs because type diabetes triggers both, insulin resistance and obesity. Moreover, patients suffering with diabetes tend to have greater levels of uric acid within their urine.
Common Signs of Kidney Stones
There are some common symptoms that can help you detect the formation of kidney stones during the early stages, and unluckily, unbearable pain is the greatest sign to help you decipher this disease.
Firstly, it is essential to understand that kidney stones are one of the hardest to detect ailments, and you may be entirely unaware of the formation of these stones. If the stone is very small, it can even pass out of your urine completely undetected. In other cases, kidney stones start scraping and scratching against the extremely gentle walls of the kidneys, bladder, urethra or even the ureters, which are basically the tubes that connect our kidneys to our bladder.
Moreover, stones also tend to obstruct the flow of urine, which causes the urine to build-up inside the ailing kidney. When the urine begins to accumulate inside the kidney, it causes severe damage and swelling, along with triggering the dilation of the kidney tissues. Health experts believe that most patients who suffer with kidney stones describe the pain as unbearably excruciating, even worse than that of childbirth.
Kidney stones tend to exhibit their presence in countless ways, however, deciphering and understanding these symptoms can often be tricky. Doctors who regularly treat patients suffering from kidney stones believe that there are certain symptoms that can give you a clear indication that something’s wrong with your kidneys and urine. You are highly likely to experience sharp pangs of excruciating pain in your lower abdomen, groin region, underneath your rib cage and your back. There are some other symptoms that are also directly associated with kidney stones.
- The need to pee recurrently
- Sharp pain in your back, below your rib cage
- Sensations of pain or burning while urinating
- Being unable to urinate, or urinating just a little despite feeling the need to urinate
- Spotting brown, red or pink blood in your urine
Many of these symptoms are also experienced during a urinary tract infection, therefore, it is best to consult a doctor and administer a urine test in order to obtain a speedy and accurate diagnosis. The doctor may even conduct blood or imaging tests to provide an accurate diagnosis of kidney stones.
Treating Kidney Stones
Kidney stones can be treated through various different treatments and medications, and the doctor will decide the ideal method that is most suitable to treat your type of kidney stones. You see, the course of treatment is always determined by the size of the stones.
Smaller stones usually tend to excrete from the body naturally on their own with the help of large amounts of fluids and even certain medications that eliminate the pain. Doctors also prescribe certain antibiotics to prevent or treat any possible infections, along with certain drugs that aid in relaxing the ureter, and speeding up the excretion of the stone.
Larger stones cannot exit the body naturally, and therefore, they need extra help in leaving the body. Doctors treat larger stones through various procedures, such as shock wave lithotripsy, a procedure that involves the use of a device to generate small shock waves aimed at breaking down the larger stones into tinier pieces. A shock wave lithotripsy is usually performed under general anaesthesia.
Another common procedure involves the insertion of a tiny tube, termed as an ureteroscope, within the urinary tract in order to eliminate or break down the stone. In the instance the stone is abnormally large, a surgical operation will be necessary to remove it.
Preventing the Formation of Kidney Stones
Fortunately, there are several steps that you can take in order to shield your kidneys against the formation of stones.
Here, take a look:
Drinking Sufficient Amounts of Water
In order to ensure that your urine doesn’t excessively concentrated, it is essential to consume sufficient amounts of water each day. You must drink a great deal of water during the hot weather, particularly if you are indulging in intensive exercising.
Reducing Sodium Consumption
It is highly advisable to reduce your consumption of sodium, and eliminate sodium-rich foods from your diet entirely. You see, cutting down on sodium will aid in bringing about a reduction in your urinary calcium levels, which will consequently cut down your risk factors for developing calcium kidney stones.
History of Risk Factors & Kidney Stones
If you have a greater risk of developing kidney stones, it is advisable to consult your doctor and plan out a significant set of preventive and dietary measures to reduce your risk. Researchers believe that based on the specific kind of kidney stones you have suffered from, you can prevent the re-emergence of kidney stones by changing your eating habit, particularly reducing the consumption of sodium, calcium, oxalate and animal-based protein from your daily diet.
Now, you may be motivated enough to complete change your diet and restrict yourself from enjoying all the foods you love, but keep in mind that this is most helpful and advisable to those who have a greater risk of developing kidney stones and have a family history of stones, along with having other risk factors, such as obesity, recurrent urinary tract infections and diabetes.
In conclusion, it is essential to understand the body make-up of every single individual is different and unique, therefore, there is no one solution that can be applicable to everyone’s conditions. The prevention measures of kidney stones depends entirely on the kind of kidney stones you’re dealing with. Therefore, it is essential to consult your doctor and obtain guidelines and preventive measures that are most specific to your situation.